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BIOGRAPHY

Inescapable and mysterious, Banksy is the current star of street art. His happenings hit the headlines, the prices of his work can reach in excess one million dollars, and some people go so far as to steal spray painted pieces of wall in order to resell them.

Banksy’s politics and disruptive vision have had an impact on places all around the world at pivotal moments in modern history, sparking new perspectives and inspiring art revolutions.


Banksy’s work has spawned a subculture in and of itself, making him arguably the most controversial street artist in the world.

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Although much conjecture surrounds the identity of the well-known British street artist Banksy, it is commonly known that the artist began his career as a freehand graffiti artist in Bristol in the 1990s. Inspired by the work of Robert Del Naja, often known as 3D, a founding member of the Bristol trip-hop group Massive Attack, Banksy started creating pieces that were reminiscent of those in the 1982 music video for the song Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren and the first hip-hop movie, Wild Style.

Early in the new millennium, Banksy shifted to the stencil, which required less time to create. Steve Lazarides, a photographer from Bristol, became Banksy's agent and helper after becoming enamored with the street artist's early stencil creations. Banksy's debut gallery exhibition, Turf War, which he presented in 2003 at a warehouse in Hackney, East London, was a huge success.

The artwork Take The Money And Run, one of Banksy's earliest and most enduring creations, was painted in the early 1990s in association with Bristol graffiti artists Inky and Mobz. It contains the New York-inspired graffiti calligraphy that was quite fashionable at the time and features the silhouettes of three criminals.

The mural The Mild Mild West is a prominent example of Banksy's early work. It was painted in 1998 and shows a teddy bear hurling a Molotov cocktail towards three riot gear-clad police. In Bristol's Eastville, Banksy stenciled the equally well-known picture Gorilla In A Pink Mask into a social club's wall in 2002. Before being unintentionally removed in July 2011, the artwork remained in place for almost ten years.

Numerous of Banksy's creations have gained international notoriety. Girl With Balloon, one of the artist's stencil works that was first sprayed onto London's Waterloo Bridge in 2002 and later published as a series of unsigned and signed prints in 2004, was chosen as the UK public's favorite work of British art in 2017.

Another well-known piece, Love Is In The Air, sometimes referred to as the Flower Thrower or LIITA, first surfaced in Bethlehem, Palestine, in 2003 as a large-format stenciled graffiti not long after the West Bank Wall was built. Later, it was used to decorate the cover of the first significant Banksy book, Banksy: Wall And Piece, which was published in 2005.

Other well-known pieces by the unconventional street artist include Queen Victoria, which shows the notoriously conservative Queen performing a sex act, and Pulp Fiction, which first appeared as a stenciled painting near London's Old Street tube station.

Banksy is renowned for his brash, two-tone aesthetic, which is a result of the frequent usage of stencils in his artwork. The artist focuses on highly noticeable spots that frequently relate to the subject matter of his works when painting on the street. For instance, the subject matter of Love Is In The Air, a sculpture that was first mounted on a wall in Bethlehem, Palestine, explicitly alludes to the common practice of throwing stones in the area. In 2017, Banksy created a sizable painting in Dover, England, a town on the south coast that receives a lot of visitors from mainland Europe, showing a guy on a ladder chipping away at one of the EU flag stars.

Banksy hung his own artwork on the walls of the Tate Britain exhibition, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris in 2003 and 2004 using 'guerrilla' techniques. Banksy's former agent Steve Lazaris commented on one of these acts, saying, "I witnessed a member of staff walk up to it, check it was fastened properly, read the words, and walk away."

Banksy continued to produce disruptive art after Turf War (2003) received positive reviews. Di Faced Tenners, a set of mock British banknotes portraying the face of Diana, Princess of Wales, that the artist created in 2004 cost over $1.2 million; later that year, he dispersed some of them into the throng at London's Notting Hill Carnival.

But Banksy first gained international attention after a tour to the Palestinian Territories in August 2005. This pivotal point in the artist's career saw him earn international notoriety over night as he painted a series of six paintings onto the West Bank barrier, which fellow street artist Eine has referred to as the "largest wall in the world." The tremendous coverage of this incident in both the international media and the art market came to be known as the "Banksy impact." Bombing Middle England sold for nearly $122,000 in 2007, at the time the highest price ever paid for a Banksy piece at auction.

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